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Can the press atone for its Mueller coverage this week?

Former special counsel Robert Mueller's upcoming public testimony before Congress Wednesday not only provides a key opportunity to educate the public on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, it also allows the Beltway press a chance at redemption. It gives news organizations an opportunity to go beyond the White House spin and the media’s soggy “both sides” coverage we've seen in recent months, where journalists allow Republicans to reinvent the content of Mueller's work. The testimony gives the press a chance to really drill down into the report and what an extraordinary event in American history it encapsulates, and creates an opportunity to highlight all the unanswered questions the investigation raised about Trump's fitness for office.

The report itself detailed more than 100 contacts between Trump associates and Russian operatives. Mueller also laid out damning evidence of Trump’s attempts to interfere in the special counsel’s investigation. The report's contents are so powerful and so condemning in their portrayal of this crooked White House that after he read it, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan not only called for Trump's impeachment, but dramatically quit the Republican Party. Now, Mueller will sit for hours and answer questions from lawmakers.

Sadly, the press needs to redeem itself because after more than a year of posting excellent work, as news organizations broke story after story about Russian intelligence efforts to align themselves with the eager Trump campaign, the coverage collapsed with the release of the actual report in late March of this year. Badly played by the White House spin machine (“exoneration!”), much of the press meekly accepted the mantra that Mueller's investigation had somehow cleared Trump.

Just last month, an NBC News report quoted Trump re-election chief Brad Parscale referencing “the release of the summary of the Mueller report exonerating the President.” Parscale's claim was completely false, yet nowhere in the NBC report was that noted. That means Trump officials have largely been given a green light by the press to lie about the Mueller report, as reporters pretend Both Sides can be right about Mueller’s conclusions. They cannot.

Meanwhile, journalists are taking seriously the idea that Republicans, who have done everything physically possible to make sure the damning Russia report remains out of view, actually want Mueller to testify in public. Why? Because Republicans are supposedly going to trap the highly decorated former Marine in a web of lies … or something.

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